Today’s English Idiom: Cook (up)

Hi everyone!

Today I’d like to introduce you to a new and interesting idiom:

Cook s/t* (up)


No no, not that kind of cooking.

Definition: Fabricate a story in order to evade a situation or attain a desired result.
Synonyms: create, make up, lie, etc.


Still confused?  Let’s look at some examples:

  • “She didn’t want to tell her mother where she went, so she cooked up a story.”
  • “That’s a really hard story to believe.  I think you cooked it up.”

Let’s see an example from a movie called Runaway Bride.  It’s a story about a newspaper columnist (Ike Graham, played by Richard Gere) and a strange woman who keeps accepting marriage proposals and then running away before the wedding (Maggie Carpenter, played by Julia Roberts).  Ellie Graham is Ike’s former wife and boss.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a video clip of it, but here’s the dialogue:


ELLIE :  “Journalism lesson number one.  If you fabricate your facts, you get fired.”

IKE: “Lesson number two.  Never work for your former spouse.”

ELLIE : “That’s not nothing to do with it.  You cooked this story up and you know it.”

IKE: “I didn’t cook up a story.  I had a source.”

ELLIE: “Someone reliable, I’m sure.  A booze-hound in a bar?”

So as you can see, it has nothing to do with making or preparing food!  Ellie is accusing Ike of making up a story and is warning him about the dangers.  People cook things up in order to avoid problems or to trick people into doing things for them.  So when someone tells you a fantastic story, watch out!  They may have cooked it up.

Key Vocabulary:
  • Fabricate [でっち上げる]

Definition: Concoct in order to deceive

Synonyms: cook up, invent, make up, lie

Example sentence: Journalists should never fabricate stories.

  • Spouse(s) [配偶者]

Definition: husband or wife

Example sentence: If you want to file a joint bank account, you and your spouse need to sign the documents.

  • Source(s) [情報源]

Definition: A person who gives information

Example sentence: Is your source trustworthy?  He might be lying to you.

  • Booze-hound(s) [アルコール中毒者]

Definition: A person who drinks too much alcohol too often

Synonyms: alcoholic, drunkard

Example: She’s a lovely woman, unfortunately she’s married to that booze hound who spends all his time at bars.

*S/T stands for “SomeThing”


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